Sadly, being irreplaceable at work is impossible. Anyone can replace you. But if someone depends on you for your character, weirdness, and presence, it’s a different story and you become an incredible asset to the team.
Being dependent on someone isn’t always great, especially with your finances. Yet at work, it can be a propellant to your career.
As most of us do, when we start our corporate careers we know nothing. And what we think we know, we don’t. At the start of my journey, I was an acne-prone 15-year-old on Wall Street and I felt bad I was paid above minimum wage to do nothing. After a few months, I soon found out that was the whole point. Companies with excessive cash reserves and knowledge power allow their employees to roam around and learn on their own before jumping in. After all, the more you learn, the more impact you can provide to the firm later, which equates to more cash. They knew I was no exception, so they gave me some time. Daily, they would set aside tutorials for me but didn’t tell me what to do with them.
Looking back, I now feel crazy for waiting for instructions. I clearly had an institutionalized programmed brain. Fast-forward 8 months with the firm, I not only learned more than I could have ever comprehended in a classroom, but I also went on to improve the company and my work paid off.
Never undermine youngsters. My unique perspective and limited expertise as a teen ironically did shape projects in a new light but the real reason the company didn’t want me to leave was due to my presence, attitude, and character traits, no boot camp or training program could teach me.
My first boss picked up on my style quickly — almost took advantage of it — but to me, it was worth it. He started depending on me to pick up his coffee and sit down for a chat every morning. When I was younger, around 13 or so, I taught tennis to elite country club members after school, and the most important lesson my coach told me was that showing up is already late. Till that day, I’ve been a freak about showing up way ahead of schedule. Having said that, you might not want to travel with me since you should expect to arrive there 3–4 hours ahead of time.
Even in the early days of working at the firm, when I thought I had nothing to do, I would still be first and people, very prominent people, started to take notice. Eventually, you guessed it, we struck up daily conversations in an empty office and trading floor. No matter how hard I tried, someone with a big title and position was earlier.
From the janitor to VPs and MDs, networking became my best tool. Everyone felt comfortable with me, possibly because I was a teen with nothing to lose and not a care in the world about making mistakes. Even the CEO stopped by a few times to grab a coffee. By the time I knew it, all of them were asking me to run down to the local coffee shop to grab breakfast for them. On the way back we would end up chatting about our careers and passions, their kids, and my dreams in college since I was a senior in HS at the time.
Fast forward to today. That was the best career activity of my life. You don’t have to have any special talent or IQ. Hard work beats all of that through taking notice of your hidden quirks and capitalizing on them.
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You may be asking how did I get a seat at the table in the first place at 15 while many college grads struggle to find employment with 10x more experience and assets?
I simply reached out to HS alumni, cold-called HR, signed up for HS programs, volunteering initiatives with the firm, and over time, when you keep up with people, you start to show reliance, trustworthiness, friendlessness, and your real side which people only want at a company. This is completely free to do. Everyone has some sort of network to tap into. From HS to the gym, you just have to say hi and be consistent. Never ask for anything in return. Giving is the best gift in networking.
With Americans spending more time with their colleagues at work than with their own family, brushing up your soft and people skills is number one.
These senior people not only became my mentors, teachers, inspirations, and family friends, they’ve helped propel my future beyond the data and sales aspects of the job into what it means to be a genuine, empathetic, present, and ethically sane human.
The younger you are, the more willing you should be to meet older folks. Believe it or not, they want to get to know you the most especially if they have kids! They want to be young again!
Senior people with fancy titles and positions have a life and heart, too. They never strive to come across as obnoxious, unbreakable, or egotistic. We just assume they are due to hierarchy stereotypes.
Networking is truly net-worth. If I’ve learned a thing or two from my half-decade of working, it’s certainly not always about what you know but who you know. There are plenty of people that bust their life, put everything on the line, and know the whole textbook in and out but are overwhelmed, burnout and cannot strategize what’s important.
Similarly to young athletes. majority quit since they started too young, put overwhelming pressure on themselves from their parents and coaches to compete, craved a normal life, and simply got bored after a while regretting not dabbing in other sports.
From sports to careers, be an open-minded generalist, not a close-minded specialist.
Taking the extra step to meet people instead of learning that detail of the DCF may be your best unlikely tool. Choose wisely.
When it comes to interviewing, it’s better to say that you don’t know than you do know because no one knows everything. Just this past year already planning for next summer’s internship, I’ve done roughly 20–30 interviews and what I’ve found from the positions I did and didn’t get is how I portrayed myself through my interview skills.
Remember, an interview is judging your interview skills. The company wants to know how you handle pressure, deal with conflict, tough and awkward people and if you are reliable, show up on time, and are personable. And if you don’t get the yes, realize that there are so many other options out there and dozens of criteria and metrics that are scanned that it’s impossible to know what went wrong, especially when most companies don’t tell us!
Even one time the following day after my Superday, I was CC’ed with another applicant and noticed one of them had the same last name as the hiring manager. No wonder he got the job and I didn’t! There was only 1 slot available and the firm had to state they interviewed them to check off the box of hiring/interviewing externally.
To gain more experience, apply to internships that will teach you valuable skills! Companies such as Atticus Capital are actively accepting applications. Refer to this link for more information
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People hire who they know just like celebrities marry celebrities.
Life is unfair so get over the past and what you cannot control and instead focus upon what you can do which starts with your mindset.
If my connections didn’t become dependable and reliant on me to grab them breakfast and start their day off discussing everything about ‘them’, seemingly small unimportant tasks, my career prospects would be dimmed and I would’ve learned the lesson of reaching out too late.
One small action can compound and benefit you more than the individual you are helping!
Strange enough, once I went back to school, my connections and I still checked in once in a while but this time via email. I could sense they had a rough time getting back into the swing of things, awkwardly asking other analysts to grab them coffee. Through their email responses they seemed down and even their syntax was sloppy with dozens of missed errors! Who knows if that was due to my absence but I would like to say so!
Being unforgettable isn’t tricky if you let people know you are there, ready to help with a smile, and 100% present.
Be noticeable. Dig into what others skip to move ahead faster.
About the author: Mia Gradelski
Hey I’m Mia, a NYU student passionate about blogging what’s on my mind all finance, tech, lifestyle-related. I'm also an investment analysis intern here at Atticus!